Golden Dawn MP’s Face Immunity Loss

ATHENS — Greek judges have asked Parliament to allow the prosecution of another nine lawmakers from the ultra far-right extremist Golden Dawn party, which is being investigated for alleged criminal activities.

Approval of the request would mean that all 18 of the party’s lawmakers face charges of running a criminal group. Greek Parliamentarians enjoy immunity from prosecution, which can only be lifted by a parliamentary vote.

So far, nine Golden Dawn MPs have been prosecuted, six of whom — including leader Nikos Michaloliakos — were jailed pending trial. Prosecutors are waiting for the parliamentary vote so they could proceed against the other nine.

The crackdown on the extreme right-wing party started after last year’s fatal stabbing of an anti-fascist musician by a Golden Dawn supporter in Athens. That sparked furious protests and later in the year two of the party’s guards at a neighborhood office were gunned down by a group which said it was revenge.

The judges also said additional charges should be laid against six of those already facing prosecution, including the party leader. Greek news agency ANA-MPA said the charges involved possession of firearms and ammunition with the aim to supply a criminal organization.

State funding for the party has been withdrawn as the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader and his partner, the PASOK Socialists, have vowed to dismantle the extremists.

With municipal and European Parliament elections looming in May, Golden Dawn still ranks third in popularity and its leaders said it would rise again under a different name if the government succeeds in taking it apart as a political entity.

Golden Dawn, seen by many as neo-Nazis, won 7% of the vote in the 2012 Greek elections and took up 18 seats in Parliament. The party denies being a neo-Nazi movement although its logo resembles the swastika and investigators said they’ve uncovered evidence that it uses Nazi methodology in its hierarchy.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)